Like many others, I’ve definitely toyed with the idea of opening up a food truck, especially with the massive amount of food trucks there are roaming around LA. I sure do spend a lot of time stalking the trucks to see if they’ll be around for lunch. It seems fun, rushing around and Twittering/Facebooking like crazy about your location to try and create buzz, but when I really sat down to run some numbers, it wasn’t worth it. If you’re planning to start a actual restaurant, it can be a great way to market yourself, brand, gauge clientele, test the menu.
1. Unlike a B&M location, no one knows where to find you
2. The energy invested into tweeting your new location every few hours could be better spent marketing and improving your menu
3. Cities are cracking down on where you can park now, as restaurant owners are very unhappy about trucks parking right in front of their stores
4. By relying on social media alone, you miss out on potential customers who may be more “loyal” to your place once they discover they like it, instead of hopping onto the next trend
5. Where the heck do you park this thing at night?
This article on MidtownLunch discusses why Manila Machine shut down, and I agree with the author – it would have been really interesting to the operators’ honest opinions about why the truck shut down – either it wasn’t profitable, they genuinely have other interests and feel that they’ve achieved everything they set out to do, not long-term sustainable, etc. Too often, businesses (people!) can’t or won’t admit the real reason something isn’t suceeding, choosing to spin. If it was me, I would have said – “Look, the food truck business was a fad. Here’s why….” Sure, food trucks are definitely fun, but it’s quite saturated around here and already dying out, like the frozen yogurt meltdown that’s currently taking place all over.